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10 City Schools to Focus Reading Skills on Content

n a bid to correct what he called a “knowledge deficit” among New York City public school students, Schools Chancellor Joel I. Klein announced on Monday a pilot program that would overhaul the way children in 10 city schools are taught to read.

The program, devised by E. D. Hirsch Jr.’s Core Knowledge Foundation, is being paid for with $2.4 million in private donations raised by the Fund for Public Schools. Called the New York City Core Knowledge Early Literacy Project, it will run for three years, following kindergartners at the 10 schools through the first and second grades.

The pilot program, which will involve about 1,000 children, represents a shift from the Bloomberg administration’s longstanding approach to teaching children to read, known as “balanced literacy.” Under that approach, children are encouraged to select books that interest them, at their own reading levels, from classroom libraries. The theory behind the approach is that it is more important to ensure that young children are truly engaged by books than to dictate that everyone read the same thing.

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